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Australia: Shares rise, end week lower on virus spread fears; NZ flat

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Australian shares rose on Friday, boosted by financials and mining stocks, but ended lower for the week as surging coronavirus infections stirred doubts about a quick economic recovery.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Friday, boosted by financials and mining stocks, but ended lower for the week as surging coronavirus infections stirred doubts about a quick economic recovery.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 1.5 per cent higher at 5,904.10. But the benchmark lost 0.7 per cent over the week, posting its second weekly fall in nine.

Financial stocks advanced 2.7 per cent, recovering from Thursday's slump to snap three days of losses, led by the "Big Four" banks, which rose between 2.4 per cent and 3.3 per cent.

Local banks took cues from US peers, which helped Wall Street end higher overnight after regulators loosened rules to allow banks to make larger investments in riskier vehicles.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia will stick with plans to further ease coronavirus curbs, despite rising cases in the second most populous state of Victoria.

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Supported by firm commodity prices, the metals & mining index rose 2 per cent. Heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto added 2.9 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively.

As Australia nears the end of its financial year in June, there was a little bit of end of financial year "window dressing" in some spots of trading, said Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter.

Energy stocks also ended 2 per cent higher, snapping a four-day losing streak, buoyed by a rise in crude prices, which rose on optimism about recovering fuel demand worldwide.

Shares of Qantas Airways dropped the most in over three months, finishing 9.1 per cent lower after the national carrier said it raised about $940 million through an institutional placement.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended flat, with gains among financial and healthcare stocks offset by losses in utilities and industrials.

The benchmark finished up 0.04 per cent to 11,129.23, but fell 1.1 per cent for the week, its second weekly fall in five.

REUTERS

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